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Supreme Court declines street-sleeping case

by Harvest Prude
Posted 12/16/19, 12:22 pm

WASHINGTON—A city cannot punish people for sleeping on the sidewalk or in public parks if no other shelter is available, according to a court ruling the Supreme Court let stand on Monday. The justices issued no comment or dissent in refusing to review the case from Boise, Idaho, where prosecutors convicted six homeless people of violating the city’s camping ban. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the city, saying that prosecuting people for sleeping in public places constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

How will the ruling affect relations between cities and the homeless? The ruling covers all nine Western states in the 9th Circuit, including California. Lawyers for the city of Boise argued that allowing homeless people to live on sidewalks and in parks “cripples the ability of more than 1,600 municipalities in the 9th Circuit to maintain the health and safety of their communities.”

Dig deeper: Read Charissa Koh’s report in Compassion on how city officials and residents respond to the public camping question.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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  • Idaho ob
    Posted: Mon, 12/16/2019 02:24 pm

    What is not mentioned is that there was shelter space available in Boise and police would transport. ACLU sued saying because these were faith based, had rules and gospel message this was violating rights.  Is our nation gone wacky or what?

  • Hawkdriver
    Posted: Mon, 12/16/2019 02:45 pm

    Rejection of Christ (truth) always leads to crazy decisions that make no sense. 

  • Narissara
    Posted: Tue, 12/17/2019 11:24 am

    So, the photo is of a man sleeping on a freeway overpass . . . The Supreme Court blew it.  Cities have to look out for the health and safety of everyone.  How are they supposed to look out for the homeless if they can't enforce ordinances?  What happens when somebody like this gets hit by a car?  And for some (the ones with mental illness and drug addiction) the police station could be the first step toward getting the help they need.  The Supreme Court just reaffirmed its complicity in throwing more human beings on the refuse heap.